Nov 13 2:07 PM

After Typhoon Haiyan, violence against young women a lingering concern

Advocates and officials remain concerned that women and young girls are the most at risk following Typhoon Haiyan.
AP Photo/Wally Santana

As relief efforts continue in the Philippines almost a week following Typhoon Haiyan, relief officials and women’s rights advocates are particularly concerned about the thousands of women and girls affected by the disaster, who have been left “painfully vulnerable” to violence during the ongoing recovery.

Given recent findings, the concern is needed. Research released last month by the international aid organization Plan International found that females are 14 times more likely to die in a disaster than males. The report, titled “In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters,” found that girls are not only less likely to be rescued than their brothers, they are also less likely to be fed. Boys return to school at much higher rates than their sisters, and girls are far more likely to be sexually victimized.

"We are concerned about the safety of women and girls in the Philippines," an aide to Justine Greening, Britain's international development secretary, told the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday. "After previous emergencies in the Philippines, we have seen an increase in violence against women and girls and in particular the trafficking of girls."

The Plan International report comes three years after a Reproductive Health Response in Crises Consortium study that found that 85 percent of those displaced by the flooding from the Asian tsunami were women and girls, and that 45,000 more women than men had died.

“The results show that listening to what adolescent girls have to say, ensuring both their rights and their needs are catered for, and strengthening their resilience, are key missing pieces of current humanitarian work,” authors of the “In Double Jeopardy” report said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Yasmin Haque, UNICEF’s deputy director of emergency programs, spoke with America Tonight’s Adam May about the need to help young women affected by natural disasters. Haque said the report highlighted some of the issues facing young women in the days following natural disasters, and that more can be done to help reduce their additional suffering.

“We see that providing a safe space where the girls can meet, where they can talk about what they’ve faced, where they can seek services, where they can have access to simple things like dignity kits, these are important things that seem so simple, but can be done and can be provided for girls,” Haque told May.

For more on the fallout from Typhoon Haiyan, check out Al Jazeera America’s special coverage.


Typhoon Haiyan

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